Scorpion Child: Acid Roulette (Nuclear Blast)
The Texan masters of hard boogie rock are back with their long awaited much anticipated second album, since their debut the band have lost a rhythm guitarist and replaced him with a full time organ/keyboardist and their original drummer has left and returned, due to this addition of a full time organ player the band have branched out from their riff heavy Zep-alike sound to add more elements of Purple as well as a lot more spiralling psych and krautrock sounds. 'The Child' as they are known have gone all out on this second record to try and improve on their excellent debut album, not difficult second album syndrome here Acid Roulette does everything the debut did and more.
The huge guitar and organ riffs working side by side with a funky hip shaking back beat and frontman Aryn Jonathan Black's crazed shamanic vocals on the heavy opening salvo She Sings, I Kill which does have a lot of Zep around it with the massive riff to start the record, things speed up on Reaper's Danse which has a proto-metal sound similar to fellow Texans The Sword, the repetitive riff from Christopher Jay Cowart the songs main hook while Jon Rice blasts away on his snare. Scorpion Child have always treaded the path between modern heavy metal and classic rock and Acid Roulette continues this Woman In Black is a true classic hard rock song with a superb solo and cocky swagger of a riff Whitesnake would be proud of, Twilight Forest has more modern sheen to it, everything gets a bit spacey on the title track that sees Aaron John Vincent's organs the main building block in this expansive song that to my mind sounds a lot like Robert Plant's more abstract exotic solo stuff, especially when it it breaks down into an organ bass driven coda halfway through adding the psych elements.
The curveball to the record is Survives which is an arena bothering, lighter waving ballad that has to be pinched from the Nikki Sixx songbook due to it's grandiose nature, it stands out from the rest of the album as a piece written especially as a live song but it's a pleasent suprise that will inevitably get some detractors but on an album that is chocked full of 12 other hard rocking it sits in the middle of the pack as break from the power of Scorpion Child's riffs. In my recent Rival Sons review I said that they would be one of the future headliners, well Scorpion Child too are in this bracket, yes they are only two albums into their career but the quality of their songwriting is a little bit scary, this is a band that know how to write a song and they are comfortable in their sound, much like Rival Sons favour the bluesier sounds of Humble Pie, Free and The Doors, Scorpion Child have Purple, ELP, Whitesnake and Zeppelin knocking on their back door. Acid Roulette is a worthy follow up to the band's self titled debut it's both old and new with enough of both to satisfy everyone, Acid Roulette sets Scorpion Child up as the future of hard rock, come worship at their altar! 9/10
Paradox: Pangea (AFM)
Paradox have been around since 1986 and since then they have been blazing a trail for thrash driven power metal since then, Pangea is the bands seventh album and their first since 2012. This album has been a long time in preparation due to setbacks, caused by several health impairments and private issues in the years since 2012. However with Greek guitarist Gus Drax (Black Fate/Sunburst), Greek drummer Kostas Milonas (Outloud/Sunburst) and Slovenian bassist Tilen Hudrap (Vicious Rumours) founding member vocalist/guitarist Charly Steinhauer has yet again acquired an accomplished band to play his intense speed driven musical style, this time the record has a bit of theme surrounding it as Pangea is notably the last supercontinent and a symbol for the beginning of the end of life on earth. The several scenarios that may cause the end of the world (e.g. war, comet, plague, cataclysm, alien invasion, etc.) are dealt with on the album.
So the normal metal fodder but built around Paradox's sound that is Gamma Ray meets Megadeth with excellent guitar playing from Drax and Steinhauer driving the songs along with speed metal riffs and slicing solos while Steinhauer's vocals are excellent he's got a wide range to his and on tracks such as the chugging The Raging Planet and the lightning quick The Ballot Or The Bullet which is a politically charged song and one of the album's best, while the guitar skills are shown on the melodic twisting middle track Manhunt (not a Wolfsbane cover). With a mix of styles on this record but the majority sticking to the heavy power metal sound of bands such as Iced Earth Pangea is yet another worthy addition to Paradox's discography, a great way to celebrate their 30th anniversary and an album that is very much worth the wait. 8/10
Bright Curse: Before The Shore (Hevisike)
Hailing from London Bright Curse are a wickedly dark, heavy rock band with a lot of psych elements giving them a sound that draws from Sleep, Tool and Kyuss with appearances from Desertfest, Up In Smoke Fest and many other hazy, chemically induced music festivals and you can see why as the band have a hypnotic sound that merges doom and stoner rock with album chock full of fuzz filled riffs, walking basslines and expressive drumming, on songs such as Cheating Pain they slow things down and the bass line of Max Ternebring is king before the loudness returns in the choruses, there is even a spoken word part in the middle of the song adds to the journey. The trio are great musicians and it shows with a wide vocal range from Romain Daut who also plays a mean guitar displaying his chops with the jazzy Walking In A Graveyard which adds another dimension to Bright Curse's sound as Daut plays like Gilmour letting one note do more than one hundred while Zacharie Mizzi builds into a drumming frenzy at the end of the track. The songs on this record are somewhere between Southern Rock jams (Candles And Flowers cowbell driven nature) and space rock freak outs with huge organ riffs on Northern Sky. Before The Shore is one hell of an album it's a real psych rock masterpiece progressive, diverse and in parts sweeping with broad musical strokes. I foresee a bright future for Bright Curse and this album is the start of something very big and very beautiful. 8/10